ONLY 700 individuals will be allowed to attend the mass that will be held to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the first baptism in Cebu at the Plaza Sugbo on Wednesday, April 14, 2021.
A total of 300 public officials and representatives of parishes have been invited, while the rest represent servers, members of the choir and church staff, said Rev. Fr. Mhar Balili, secretary-general of the quincentenary celebration.
Balili said Papal Nuncio to the Philippines Charles Brown will preside over the mass that will start at 4 p.m.
He said 10 bishops and National Historical Commission of the Philippines Secretary Rene Escalante will be in attendance.
Officials from outside Cebu will need to secure a coronavirus test 72 hours prior to their arrival.
Balili said only those with identification cards will be allowed in the venue.
He also reminded them not to bring backpacks and large bags.
He said the event will be off limits to the public.
“Even though they can’t attend, please be with us and join the mass by watching it on the Facebook page 500 Years of Christianity-Archdiocese of Cebu,” Balili said in a mix of Cebuano and English.
Fr. Aladdin Luzon of the Order of St. Augustine said the Basilica del Sto. Niño will not be holding masses on April 14.
Luzon asked devotees for their patience, saying the event is only for a day and that the celebration is the highlight of the year.
Balili said the Cebu City Emergency Operations Center (EOC) approved the number of individuals who will be attending the event.
City Councilor Joel Garganera, EOC deputy chief implementer, said the EOC has been working with the Cebu Archdiocese since last year.
Although the Plaza Sugbo can accommodate up to 3,000 persons, Garganera said they want to make sure health protocols will be followed.
City Councilor Phillip Zafra, committee on public order chairman, said control points will be established within the 300-meter radius from the Plaza Sugbo. Around 400 police personnel will secure the venue and its vicinity.
Zafra urged the public not to attempt to go to the mass since security will be “very strict.” He instead asked the public to watch the event online.
On Tuesday, April 13, the City Transportation Office will start clamping and towing vehicles parked in the vicinity of the Plaza Sugbo.
City Market Administrator Irvin Cabales said vendors at the nearby Carbon Public Market were already told that delivery trucks could only enter until 5 a.m. on April 14.
Cabales urged marketgoers to take note of road closures and not to bring their vehicles.
Zafra said the City already met with establishment owners in the area and they promised to cooperate.
Balili reminded attendees to park their vehicles either at SM Seaside or at Robinsons Galleria to prevent congestion in the downtown area, adding a Mybus will pick up the 169 parish representatives at SM Seaside and take them to the Compania Maritima.
Balili said a reenactment of the first baptism will be conducted in front of the Magellan’s Cross at 2 p.m.
After the mass, the Basilica del Sto. Niño will be declared a national treasure followed by the blessing of the Sto. Niño exhibit.
A cultural presentation will be held at 7:30 p.m. at the Pilgrim Center.
The first recorded conversion to Catholicism took place in Cebu on April 14, 1521, when Rajah Humabon and his wife, as well as their subjects, embraced the Catholic faith. (JJL)